FARMER CITY, Ill. — Shannon Babb became the first Illinois driver to capture the Illini 100 on Saturday.
The Moweaqua, Ill., driver started seventh and took the lead on lap-46 from Bobby Pierce and never looked back en route to the $20,000 payday in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series-sanctioned sixth annual Illini 100 at Farmer City Raceway.
Babb became the eighth different winner in eight races on this year’s WoO LMS tour across America.
“Man I’m pumped, Twenty Grand right here at Farmer City, shoot,” said Babb in front of a packed home town crowd. “This race means a lot, there’s no better crowd in the Midwest than right here, every year they keep supporting it, we’ve got a lot of good race fans and race teams around here, its great. Love to win it right here at home.”
Polesitter Morgan Bagley and Rick Eckert brought the field of 24 to life for the Illini 100 with Eckert taking to the point and leading the opening circuit with Bobby Pierce, Tim McCreadie and Bagley in tow. On the third lap Pierce took the lead from Eckert coming off the fourth turn and would now hold the point.
By the eighth lap Darrell Lanigan would make his presence known and rally from his eighth starting spot to challenge for the third spot and eventually take the position from McCreadie. By the next lap, Lanigan would roll his Club 29 Race Car to the second position which was being held by Eckert.
Pierce would continue to lead and get some company as Lanigan would make the march and close the gap on Pierce by the 16th lap. Lanigan would put his nose to the outside of Pierce on several occasions but Pierce’s momentum on the bottom keep him out front.
Lapped traffic came into play by the 21st circuit as both Pierce and Lanigan would have their hands full behind several lapped cars vying for spots in the back. For the next eight laps the duo would work through lapped cars with Pierce still holding his momentum.
Pierce would continue to lead until the 45th lap when the caution flew for debris. On the restart, Babb would knock off second place and by the 46th lap he moved up the track and took the lead from Pierce.
“When those guys went to the bottom, my mouth was watering, I just got up there and got ’er done,” said Babb talking about the lap-45 restart.
As the race went on after the lap-50 yellow flag, Babb could flex his muscle with the lead on the field but after the final yellow on lap-88, the field would bunch up again for the final time. Babb would hold off Lanigan for his first WoO LMS victory of the season.
Only four caution flags slowed the event which took just over 36 minutes to run. The first yellow flag came on the sixth lap as Steve Sheppard Jr. and Jeep VanWormer both spun in turn one. The next yellow would be on lap 45 for debris in turn four. The third yellow would come out on the 50th lap as Chase Junghans slowed in turn three with a flat tire. The fourth and final yellow would wave on the 88th lap as Clint Smith brought his car to rest in turn four with a right-rear flat tire. Both Junghans and Smith entered the work area and bolted on new rubber for the rest of the main event.
Babb drove his Petroff Towing, Donley Trucking and Krekes Powerhouse sponsored Rocket Chassis to the payday. Completing the top five were eighth-starting Lanigan, fourth-starting Pierce and sixth-starting McCreadie and Eckert, who drove to his first top-five in the first Rocket Chassis House Car start.
Two-time series champion Darrell Lanigan just couldn’t get over the hump he needed to get the win. “We did have a good car all night, that’s my fault, I should have took the outside on the first restart and picked the inside,” stated Lanigan after his podium finish.
Lanigan turned the fastest overall lap of Ohlins Shocks Time Trials on Friday Night, circling the blistering-fast oval in 13.369 seconds during Group ‘A’ of the split qualifying session.
Shannon Babb, Darrell Lanigan, Bobby Pierce, Tim McCreadie, Rick Eckert, Jason Feger, Kevin Weaver, Chub Frank, Frank Heckenast Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Scott Schmitt, Ryan Unzicker, Shane Clanton, Eric Wells, Brady Smith, Morgan Bagley, Rick “Boom” Briggs, Chase Junghans, Clint Smith, Joe Harlan, Steve Shappard Jr., Brian Diverley, Jeep VanWormer, Darren Friedman.